Friday, December 20, 2013

How to Keep Me Accountable

Years ago, I had a Christian friend who admitted that he was having a problem with using profanity.  Though I never heard him use it myself, I would suspect that him having Tourette's probably only made the issue worse; however, he did admit that having a group of friends at his college who kept each other accountable was a major help in keeping his language in check.  I may not have the same living situation, but I can still hope my friends can keep me accountable; if I say I will do something, but don't do it, they should be the ones letting me know.

Still, there is just one question: How? A friend recently commented, "I'm happy to hold you accountable. What would you like me to do?" Probably others have been asking the same question, which is likely why I have only been notified that I was doing something I had previously said I wouldn't do a scant few times.  So, I'm here to tell you what I would like you all to do in that regard.

First off: Remember what I said I was going to do...and hold me to it.  I don't expect you to remember every word I put on this blog--honestly, there are some online statements I've made I don't even want to recall myself!--but I do hope that you will remember the main points, and, if you think I've said or done something in violation of a previous statement, say something! That doesn't mean you have to call me out publicly; frankly, unless I flagrantly make a mockery of someone I personally know, making a public statement--online or elsewhere--that chews me out is simply an overreaction.  I should know; I've had it happen before, and it seriously hurt.  Telling me privately would be the best way.  Even if you think I've violated my own statements when I haven't, I'll investigate it and kindly reply.  That also means you will have to pay attention to what I post online...but you already do that, or you wouldn't be reading this!

Second off: When we talk, if I tell you I'm planning on doing something--or have done something--that isn't in keeping with my word...let me know.  Many of you know of a certain former female friend who I was obsessed with for quite a while.  What you may not know is: Prior to that, I had heard of other individuals whose obsessions with real-life acquaintances led to them facing charges...and I said, "I would never do that!" It wasn't until my case of it had blown over that I realized I had done something I'd said I would never do.  Then again, that wasn't the only time; it's happened before...and it's happened since.  I'll be honest: One of my problems is that I tend to say whatever it takes to get what I want...without actually intending to follow through on my word.  Back in 1999, one of my neighborhood friends got in a Super Smash Bros. duel with his brother to determine who the true champion of their household was.  To encourage him to win, I told him that, if he won, he could go online and print any Pokémon he wanted from my computer.  He did win...but I was still shocked when he actually held me to what I said.  Years later, I had to promise that I wouldn't complain if and when my parents decided to get a dog in order to go to an American Idol concert.  I agreed to all that...but, when I heard we actually would be getting one soon, I became so mad that me and my father got into an argument in public, and, when I vented to a friend about my situation, she reportedly told my mother, "[Siobhan] is very angry!"  In both cases, I was just speaking words to get what I wanted; I had no plans to actually do as I said.  I'm tired of that; I don't want to be a manipulator or a deceiver.  If a man is only as good as his word...then, my word needs to be great!

My final point before my conclusion: Don't make excuses for me not doing as I say. When I was in school, I had teachers at times who would give me high grades on projects that were paltry compared to the ones my classmates did.  It was especially that way in my high school Spanish class; I often turned in projects that I hastily slapped together in Print Shop or AppleWorks...and got close to the same grades as other kids who worked much harder on theirs! Yes, I may have had a "condition," but the only reason I did such rush jobs was because I "needed" my TV and Nintendo GameCube time, not because I couldn't work any harder! The same is true of me doing as I say: Unless there's some sort of extraneous circumstance--and I'm not the one who should be the judge of that--I should keep my word, regardless of what anyone else does or says.  It's true that it might take me a while to make a new habit, which is why a gentle reminder that I'm not doing as I said would be a big help.

Now, for my conclusion: One thing I absolutely don't want anyone to do is to do everything for me.  Of course, when learning a new skill--driving, graphic design, performing, etc.--one does need to heed the words of those who are more experienced within whatever area(s); still, if all I do is sit and watch someone else do something, I haven't really learned anything.  I know that most of you reading this are much well-versed in everything--well, okay, everything but kiddie entertainment!--than I am.  I want you to guide me, and I'm willing to accept assistance...but, if you do too much, what have I learned? It's as Confucius once said: "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand."

Any comments?

Friday, December 6, 2013

My Resolution(s) for the Rest of the Year...and Next Year...and Beyond!

I'm going to try and keep this short, as I have less than an hour before my Internet curfew of 8:00: For far too long, I have been all about talk and not much about action.  On this blog alone, I have rehashed the same stories to make the same points, without actually doing anything to put them into practice.  Seriously, how many times have I said, "From now on, I will _____," and proceed to stop doing whatever after only a few days? Frankly, I'm tired of the talking, and I'm ready to take some action.  So, here's what I'm going to do from now on, and I expect you, as my friends, to keep me accountable.

1) No more endless defenses of how unique or different I am.  I could sit here and tell you about how us originals are thought of as freaks by many people, and use the example of a high school classmate I only knew of--that is, I never spoke a word to her--as an example of how different "different" can be.  I could sit here and tell you that I know that my different tendencies have caused me to lose some friends, but that I couldn't care less what they think, and don't even want to hear what they have to say.  I could quote Bible verses and use them against unnamed individuals who have apparently made comments about my tastes that I didn't appreciate.  I'm not, though, because you've heard it all before.  Seriously, I've wasted too much time doing all that, and it hasn't gotten me anywhere; all I've done is exasperated myself and told you what you already knew.  Instead of talking about how different I am, I'm just going to be that way.  That doesn't mean that I'm going to stop my typical posts--song lyrics, weekly "hauls," entertainment moments, movie/book reviews--etc.; it just means that I'm not going to endlessly defend what I'm doing.  If someone does make a disparaging comment--and we all know that someone, somewhere will--then that is on him/her, and it's nothing more than a sign of his/her insecurity and immaturity.  Getting upset and venting my frustrations is nothing more than playing into such a person's hands; the only right way to reply is to not say anything to such individual, but to keep doing whatever it is whoever doesn't want me to do.  It's just like when my grandmother got her driver's license; when my grandfather said, "You're never going to get it!", she set out to prove him wrong.  It's the same with me; when someone tells me I shouldn't be reading, watching, or listening to whatever because I'm too old or it's too "girly," I should just do it anyway, not waste my time addressing such ridiculous comments.  In my review of the horrible movie The Clique, I began my thoughts by saying, "I'm not even sure if I should dignify this movie by reviewing it."  It's the same with unfortunate individuals' comments; they really don't even deserve a response.

2) No more wondering why I don't have what others have.  Throughout my life, I have tended to have an, "I want, I want, I want!" mentality.  Even when I didn't know someone else who had something, simply seeing it in a catalog or on a commercial made me want it fervently.  Thankfully, my mom was smart enough to know that I didn't really want everything I thought I wanted, and didn't waste her money on silly little trifles for which I had no need.  Though I rarely look at catalogs or watch commercials on TV anymore--and, even when I do, I seldom want what it I see--it's still a problem because of what I see on Facebook.  Oftentimes, I see people writing and/or posting pictures about their outing to a fancy movie theater, concert, or party, and wonder: Why wasn't I invited? Why don't I ever get to do that? It's the same with relationships at times; I see someone talking about their impending wedding, and I ask myself: Okay, so...when is my wedding? With all this talk about being different, and not doing or having what "everybody else" does...shouldn't that apply to social outings and my relationship status as well?

3) No more wasting time when I don't get exactly what I want, when I want.  Some years ago, I lamented to my coeval friends at church that my mom punished me by making me "write a hundred sentences."  They all replied at once, "That's it?!!", and one even commented, "Shoot, man; I'd just write the hundred sentences and get it over with!"  Unfortunately, it seems like, when things don't go exactly my way, I tend to pout and get upset.  What I should do is find something else to do; seriously, pleading with someone to do what I want him/her to do when he/she has already said no doesn't do anyone any good.  The same applies to other time-wasting habits, such as poking around online or pacing and talking to myself.  In all honesty, I should have plenty to do; I didn't purchase all those books and DVDs for them to just sit around and collect dust!

I will end by saying this: Many people tend not to make New Year's resolutions, if only because they know they won't keep them.  I'm reminded of a columnist in my local paper who once said he got a kick out of visiting a nearby walking trail on the first of January and watching all the people who "resolved" to run a mile a day...only to come back a few months later and see that the vast majority have given up!  I used to be the same way, but, in reality, it was only because I didn't want to change my ways; I was convinced that I was fine the way I was.  Unfortunately, none of us are; we've been flawed individuals since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit.  Frankly, I think part of the problem with New Year's resolutions is that, when people make them, they bite off more than they can chew, so to speak.  Of course those people who want to run a mile or two every day give up; they need to start small!  If they started by walking half a mile, and worked their way up over the course of the year, they'd be better off! For some people, though, making a change takes longer than a year.  It may take thirteen months, or it may take a decade.  I say that because the resolution(s) above probably smack of my resolution for this year.  Though I'd say I'm doing better with using my time wisely, I still have some work to do; however, that doesn't upset me.  I realize that these things take time, and am proud that I have at least made some progress on that front.

Monday, November 18, 2013

My "Obsessions" and Me: A History

NOTE: This post was written while I was "off the grid" this past July.  I've been meaning to post it for months, but never got the chance until now.  Though some of my views mentioned below have changed, quite a few of the details I mention are ones I haven't already shared publicly.  Sure, it's long, but you know to expect that from me!

I never set out to be known for being "obsessed with" or "addicted to" anything, but, that's what ended up happening.  (This may sound familiar, but, keep reading.) I could blame it on having Asperger Syndrome, but, frankly, I think outside forces played a big part in it, as well.  Sure, the topics of my obsessions/addictions varied, but they still shared a common thread of sorts.  I do feel that I actually have made progress on that front; if you look at where I've come from, you'll see it, too.

Let's start at the beginning: When I was about two years old, my biological father--who was already divorced from my mother by that point--dropped off a Commodore 64 at our house.  He intended it for my sister, and she knew rather well how to use it, but she essentially couldn't have cared less about it.  I, however, took to that thing like a fish to water, and, even though the interface was text-based, I knew how to load various programs and do all sorts of fun stuff on there.  Though my immediate family--that is, my mom and my aforementioned sister--were fine with me having an interest in computer science, they wanted me to have other interests, so, they tried to teach me about roller skating, softball, and other outdoor leisure activities that kids all over the world have enjoyed for generations.  There was one problem, though: I had zero interest.  All I wanted to spend my spare time doing was watching television, reading books, and using that old Commodore; I had no need for playing outside or anything else that didn't relate to those activities.  That continued for years; even as late as when I was in kindergarten and first grade, I didn't like any of the classes my mom signed me up for…except for the computer classes.  One time, I attended a daycare program of sorts during spring break, and, after one session there, my sister asked me how I felt about it, and I told her I didn't like it because there were no computers there.  Her reply was, "It can't be bad just because they don't have computers there.  What's the real reason?" The "real reason" was what I had just told her; seriously, computers meant that much to me.  When that old Commodore started to break down, my addiction still continued thanks to me getting my first Mac for my seventh birthday.  An attempt to divert my interest by signing me up for swimming lessons did nothing except for cement my dislike of such activities.  I had a few other interests around that time--dinosaurs, the Peanuts comic strip, etc.--but they all played second fiddle to that terminal.

In second grade, things changed a bit.  When I was on my computer previously, though I had games for it, I sometimes spent my time on there doing activities that other kids that age--and even many adults--wouldn't consider fun, such as using spreadsheet or calorie counting software, or creating a family tree that wouldn't even be saved.  When I got two Lemmings games for my first Mac, I was addicted to them for a while, but that proved to be a bit short-lived when I reached an impasse in both of them.  However, when Christmas Day came around, I received a gift that changed my life forever: Putt-Putt Goes to the Moon.  My mom didn't know what it was when I first opened it; her exact words were, "What is that, a golf game?" It was actually a kiddie point-and-click adventure that starred a purple convertible--the title character--who accidentally gets launched to our planet's only natural satellite, and has to find his way back.  Upon starting it, I wasn't terribly impressed, but, once I figured out how to beat it, not only did playing through it become a daily ritual, but I spent at least a year or two gaga over everything related to that anthropomorphic car.  Toward the end of my third grade year, my teacher even reprimanded me for writing about Putt-Putt in my journal too much.

Around the time I started fourth grade, things changed even more when I got into The Magic School Bus.  Other than the normal problems an obsession would cause, two things made matters rather difficult for me and everyone who knew me at the time: One, it was almost universally disliked by my coeval peers, and, two, I believed it was real.  In fact, I had this whole doomsday plot in my mind where that crazy teacher from the series--whose name I won't utter here--was going to take over the world.  I talked about her so much, though, that some believed that I had a crush on her, and my repeated denials of that convinced no one; more on that later.

Another change happened in fourth grade, as well: I discovered the classic sitcom.  Previously, I had watched--and enjoyed--the reruns of The Cosby Show on my local Fox affiliate, but I was never obsessed with it; however, twice-daily airings of Growing Pains on the Disney Channel made me a big fan, to the point where, when I acted up, I would get grounded from it for two weeks.  (Anyone who is a parent will understand what I mean by that.)  I lost interest some time later because I thought I had seen all the episodes, but it continued to have an effect on me for years; I even did an eighth grade writing assignment based around the classic "Meet the Seavers" episode of GP, and ended up back into it for a while when I started high school.  Its influence is still felt to a degree in my life to this day.

Yet another change happened just before I became a fifth grader: I discovered Scooby-Doo.  With my previous obsessions, I had always had a favorite entity; a "hero," if you will.  My favorite dinosaur was Spinosaurus; my favorite computer game was Putt-Putt; my favorite Growing Pains character was--who else?--Mike Seaver.  Though the blond-haired Fred was my favorite of the Mystery, Inc., gang, I had a crush on the prettier of the two girls on the series.  The same thing happened with later favorite series.  With Mork & Mindy, Mork/Robin Williams was my hero, and Mindy/Pam Dawber was my crush.  With Digimon, blue-haired Joe was my hero, and Sora was my love interest.  It first started with "those meddling kids," though.

Like many kids of my generation, I was a big time Pokémon fan around the time of Y2K.  However, I was also still into Scooby-Doo, which made my sixth grade classmates…well, uncomfortable.  They considered it "childish" and "uncool," whereas I loved it and put it on my binder for everyone else to see.  It was also a turning point for my obsessions; instead of just one limited topic, I was into two different ones, which had little to do with one another.  Around that time, my mom told me that I had a one-track mind.  I asked her what that meant, and she said, "It means you only think about one thing," so I asked her what that "one thing" was, and she said, "Scooby-Doo and Pokémon." I told her that was two things, "so I must have a two-track mind." She didn't like that.

Though we can laugh about that, what isn't funny is how those two fictional universes took precedence over almost everything else at the time.  About halfway through that school year, a longtime church member and father of four school-aged children--some of you may know who I'm speaking of--lost his battle with pancreatic cancer, which saddened the hearts of the entire church family and probably many others.  The church had a memorial service instead of a regular one that Wednesday night, and I was told not to run around and play in honor of the deceased.  I followed that rule…but I still didn't behave quite as I should have.  I spent the entire time hanging out with two guys and talking about--you guessed it--those "pocket monsters."  When the deceased member's youngest daughter got baptized--which is exactly what her father would have wanted--and everyone else congratulated her, I said absolutely nothing.  Even on the way to the service, when my brother-in-law asked if I had cried over that man's tragic death, I said that I just didn't "feel the need." He severely reprimanded me, saying, "Oh, sure; you cry when the store doesn't have any Pokémon cards, but you won't cry over something like this.  You really need to get your priorities straight."  I just brushed it off; looking back, I realize how in error I was.

Some time into my seventh grade year, at the age when most kids are discovering the opposite gender, my favorite celebrities--minus one; more on that later--were all guys.  Specifically, the boys in top-selling Christian bands dc Talk and Audio Adrenaline were my heroes, especially the former.  The only favorite female celebrity I had was Anne Robinson, the host of both the British and American versions of Weakest Link.  It's funny how I ended up discovering that show: I was in a serious funk after making a special trip to a nearby city for a Christian music festival, only to find that it was cancelled due to some unfortunate individual taking advantage of the concert promoters.  I didn't think I'd like that new game show, but I watched it anyway; after all, what did I have to lose? Not only did I end up loving the show, but Anne Robinson was hilarious; it brought me out of that funk, for sure.  That's a testament to the power of entertainment.  My mom said that I had a crush on that British host, and, in a way, that may have been true.

The above chronicle may be good, but there was a serious problem around that time, as well: It seemed that, as much as I adored the Christian music, my attitude towards others betrayed my so-called faith.  I looked down on those who listened to music I considered obscene--which was pretty much every coeval person I knew--and felt that my music was superior to theirs.  I was so frustrated by the bawdy, immature actions of those around me that I believed--this is no joke, and I do regret this--that such people weren't even worth the birth pains their parents put into having them.  It was like an exaggerated version of the Pharisee in Luke 18:11-12.  Many of my peers were probably more respectful towards their parent(s) and their fellow man than I was, but, because of what they listened to and how they appeared to me, they were worthless.  God loved them just the same as He did me, but I didn't realize that until much later.  It seemed that, even though I had the lyrics to Christian songs memorized, I wasn't applying them one bit.

Just before I finished seventh grade, my mom introduced me to Diff'rent Strokes, and quickly wished she didn't, because I spent that entire summer and eighth grade year talking about it ad nauseam.  What made matters even worse was that my crush on the show--remember the whole hero and crush thing?--was an actress who, by the time I knew about the show, had gone from acting in "softcore" films to dying of a drug overdose.  (I will not utter her name; it is like a profanity to me now.)  Later that year, I got into Mork & Mindy and Growing Pains again thanks to reruns airing on cable (though not on Nick at Nite or TV Land, as some would assume.)  Not long after my eighth grade year ended, I realized how stupid DS was and switched back to my old favorites, especially the one starring Kirk Cameron.

It was November 2002 when everything changed big time.  (I think you long-time readers of my blog know what's coming, don't you?)  Just after I started high school in September of that year, Growing Pains--not only my favorite show, but, in my opinion at the time, the only thing on television worth watching--was removed from ABC Family's lineup, which left me with no way to watch it.  I was devastated, and mad at the world.  A kid my mom was taking care of happened to be well-versed in all things kiddie television.  He showed me Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, which I mostly found inane and pointless.  However, when he showed me Lizzie McGuire for the third or fourth time that November, I fell in love with both Lizzie and Hilary Duff, the actress who played her.  The show had everything I liked about the old-school sitcoms: family-friendliness, an attractive young woman in a starring role, hilarious comedy, and likable characters.  What made things even better was that Ms. Duff was around the age she was in the show--and, therefore, around my age--instead of being a kid in the show I was watching but actually middle-aged by the time I was watching it.  It wasn't long until other Mouse network sitcoms Even Stevens and That's So Raven--and their pretty female stars, Christy (Carlson) Romano and Anneliese van der Pol--found their way into my heart as well.

You may wonder: Why such a focus on famous ladies? In actuality, I had celebrity crushes as early as second grade; my first one was Amy Jo Johnson, the original Pink Ranger.  (Recent viewings of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers have showed me that, even at that age, I had good taste in women.)  Later on, I had a thing for the actresses Teri Hatcher--who, at the time, was pretty much only known for playing Lois Lane, not a Desperate whatever--and Catherine Bell, star of JAG.  I wouldn't call them "obsessions," though, because most of my friends and peers probably had no idea I was ever into those actresses, whether or not they knew of them.  However, around the time I was in eighth grade, my classmates and such began getting into relationships, albeit ones that lasted a mere week or two, if even that.  I knew that wasn't real love; in order to fight against that, I showcased my devotion to various actresses.  To me, that was much better than going from one significant other to another every few days.

My thing for Disney actresses and their shows continued for a while; however, it was during summer of 2005 that I experienced my very first celebrity disappointment.  One Sunday night during that time, there was a new movie on ABC Family starring Christy (Carlson) Romano, titled Campus Confidential.  I had been waiting to see it since I'd first heard about it; before the switch to Anne Hathaway and Ashley Tisdale the March prior, Ms. Romano was second only to the inimitable Hilary Duff when it came to favorite celebrities, and she still was one of my favorites…until I watched that dreck.  Not only did Ms. Romano's character spout off multiple profanities--in a "family" movie, no less!--but the sexual content was just too much for me.  The whole thing was so bothersome to me, I turned the TV off when the first commercial break started, and did a "venting post" on the dc Talk online forum on which I was a member at the time.  As most of you probably know, it wouldn't be the last time that would happen.

During my senior year of high school, I fell in love…but not with a celebrity.  This time, it was a classmate.  Despite the fact that it was somewhat obvious--at least, to others--that she was only interested in being friends, I became obsessed with her.  I had claimed that I had given up my obsession for her, but, what I had actually done was replace Anne Hathaway, Ashley Tisdale, and company with her.  That classmate even said, "Whether it's Disney stars or me, that much of a focus isn't healthy."  I'd had one romantic pursuit previously--in September 2003--and later had two more; they all went absolutely nowhere.  Each time, some big unrelated event happened around the same time; either the death of a loved one or some sort of severe weather.  (Were those signs from above? One wonders.)

Over time, the nature of my crushes evolved as well.  When I first got into Hilary Duff, I didn't just like her show and her music; I was convinced that I would marry her one day.  Later on, I told others that Anne Hathaway was my wife; when an educational video on Shakespeare mentioned that the Bard "married Anne Hathaway", the entire class looked at me, and one guy even said, "I thought you were going to do that, [Siobhan]!" (I'm pretty sure even he realized that those two Anne Hathaways were not the same person.)  Later on, I became more grounded in reality, and realized that not only did I have almost zero chance with pretty much any single famous female, but, unless she happened to be a Christian--i.e., CCM singers Rebecca St. James or Kerrie Roberts, who have since gotten married--we were completely incompatible.  Even my so-called crush on Victoria Justice wasn't as it appeared; I loved her show and her music, as well as her squeaky-clean image, and I did find her somewhat attractive…but I had no desire to marry her.  As I once told a now-former friend, "Frankly, I hope that Victoria never proposes marriage to me; I'd hate to be the guy that turns her down."  I can imagine the tabloids would have a field day with anyone who refused a marriage proposal from a Hollywood celebrity, especially one largely thought to be attractive.  More to the point, I personally know quite a few ladies--some of whom are probably reading this--who are more attractive than anyone on Nickelodeon or Disney Channel could ever be, not just because of their looks, but because of our connection, the kind of which I'll never have with Victoria Justice, Laura Marano, or Zendaya.

You may wonder: Why have I kept the whole thing going? I've said before that it entertains people, and it does.  Being known for being a celebrity fan is a lot better than what I've been known for in the past.  However, the main reason is actually this: Because I am of the male gender, I always take more notice of females than I do those of my own gender.  When watching a movie or TV show, it's almost impossible for me not to notice the actress(es) or other female celebrities, even if she/they get(s) short shrift.  When Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was adapted into a movie, they seriously abbreviated the role of the French young lady Fleur Delacour, but that didn't stop me from taking notice of Clémence Poésy's portrayal of her.  I was a bit miffed when Fleur was totally omitted from Half-Blood Prince, but at least she made it into Deathly Hallows.  When I watched Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy, which was on my Verizon FiOS On Demand this past week for whatever reason, I immediately took notice of Valerie Vernon and Cerina Vincent, the actresses who played the two female Rangers.  The same is true for any other movie, TV series, or whatever: I'm more likely to notice the ladies.  However, since people tend to jump to conclusions, if I say that I like an actress' portrayal of a character, or a large part of a female singer's album, or even a female interior designer's re-working of a room, everyone starts assuming that I'm in love with that famous woman.  I'm reminded of the letter a girl sent into Nintendo Power, where she started talking about how, every time she talked about how great the games of Shigeru Miyamoto--creator of Mario, Zelda, StarFox, and Pikmin--were, her little brother would start chanting, "You love Miyamoto, you love Miyamoto!" She claimed in her letter to that gaming magazine, "I don't love him.  I just admire his games."  Unfortunately, maybe just because of human nature, if I mention that I like a female celebrity's work, people tend to respond in essentially the same way.  (Even if they don't outright say it, chances are, they're thinking it.)  Instead of fighting it, like I tried to do with that whole Magic School Bus thing in fourth grade, I've just decided to run with it, because I know that trying to get people to believe otherwise is a fight I will never win.

Here is my final point: The literature I have read about Asperger Syndrome says that, at some point, the obsessions go away.  It does take a long time; the book I have says that the final stage--something resembling a overpowering celebrity crush--can still be going strong well into one's twenties.  Still, I think--and this is just me; you might disagree--that I have passed that stage.  Sure, I do have a "special interest"--entertainment--but I've known others who felt the same way about history, animals, or other topics…yet they're not one bit autistic.  Then again, I never knew I was obsessed with anything in the first place.  As a kid, when I was told that I was obsessed with whatever or whoever, I felt insulted and outright denied it, even throwing it back on the "accuser" sometimes.  When I learned the nature of my condition, and that an obsession just came with it, I decided to make it work for me; after that, when someone proclaimed, "You're obsessed with _______!", I just replied, "Yeah; so what?" If I am obsessed with anything, it might be pretty ladies; it seems like I can't keep from interacting with them wherever I go.  That may sound weird, dumb, and/or problematic to you, but, for me, it's just the way I am.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Actually, I DO Have a Significant Other!

Okay, quick: How many of my girlfriends can you name? Your answer to that question depends on who you would consider my "girlfriends".  If you're thinking of girls I've dated, you're no doubt coming up empty, because I've never been on a date.  If you're trying to name all the various ladies who I do or have ever considered a friend, there's way too many to list.  If you're attempting to come up with all my current or previous celebrity crushes, I doubt even I could name them all, and I don't even think I want to do so.  No matter your definition of the word, everyone who knows me knows that my relationship status has always been the same: no wife, no fiancee, and no dates to speak entire life.  However, when I think about others' relationships--ranging from teens and young adults dating to middle-aged and elderly couples who have been together for ages--I realize that I do actually have a significant other.  Just like you non-single folks do with your spouses, fiancees, or whoever, I spend a lot of time with the object of my affection.  Even when we're not together physically, she is constantly on my mind, and it seems like, no matter what I do, I'm reminded of her, and talk about her to almost everyone I meet.  My workplace is full of reminders of her and what we have done together; my room is packed with them as well, and you'll see them everywhere you look as soon as you enter.  So...who am I talking about? Am I about to embarrass some Facebook friend? No. Am I fantasizing about Demi Lovato again? Uh-uh. Did I meet some young lady at church? Nope.  The "she" I am talking about is...entertainment.

You may be thinking, "Now, hold on; how can you be in a relationship with an abstract entity?"  The same way some people can be so focused on their jobs, their kids, their life's work, or anything else that it gets in the way of romance.  I'm reminded of the scene in The Astronaut Farmer where the title character is asking others what he should name his rocket, and a Hispanic farmhand suggests La Otra Mujer; Spanish for The Other Woman.  More to the point, I remember reading online that director James Cameron (Titanic, Avatar) had been married five times, and one of his ex-wives talked about his dedication to his craft--movie-making, of course--getting in the way of their marriage.  Ex-spouses of those with Asperger Syndrome have told the same story; in fact, a statistic says that marriages where one person has A.S. end in divorce eighty percent of the time, and, in many cases, their adherence to their "special interest" is among the reasons why.

There are two points I want to make to those naysayers who are thinking this whole thing is ridiculous.  First off: How do you expect me to maintain a relationship, when almost all humankind in general does is drive me nuts? Some years ago, I was at a counseling session where I was lamenting about some troubles--frankly, I have completely forgotten which ones--and my counselor replied, "People are just so hard to live with, aren't they?" Though her statement may have been made in jest, I honestly think that sums up most of the troubles I've had in my life.  Though I currently have a lot of friends--or, at least, I hope I do--even they can be aggravating sometimes.  (Oh, come on; like you've never been frustrated with me?) I find other people in general--whether they're random ones I see at Burger King, or folks I've known all my life--to be odd; that's one of the reasons I've always looked up to Mork from Mork & Mindy.  Some people's oddities can be endearing; others are just downright ingratiating.  Even Facebook is a problem; you have no idea how annoyed I get at times with people's inane wall posts.  (Seriously, haven't you felt that way at times?) Sometimes, I take a look on my news feed, and want to exclaim in the style of King Solomon, "Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly meaningless! Everything on here is meaningless!" (If you don't know what I'm referring to...go read Ecclesiastes!)  It seems like entertainment is my only escape from that.  (For those who are wondering: I find pets--especially dogs--even more annoying than I do people.  A family dog or cat may be said to lower one's blood pressure, but all my parents' chihuahua--and their cat, to a lesser degree--does is raise mine!)  Though most entertainment features people--or, at least, entities that behave like people--they don't annoy me like society usually does.

Second off: How can you expect any human--including a potential significant other--to compete with entertainment? One of the things I realized a while ago is that I tend to treat other people like I do technology.  That sound weird, but think of it this way: What is technology supposed to do? What we want, when we want it, right? If you're sitting on the couch and pushing the power button on your TV's remote, but it won't come on, something is wrong, correct? You check to make sure you have the right device selected; you make sure the TV is plugged in; you check the batteries in the remote.  Well, people aren't that way; God gave us free will, which means that no one can make us do anything.  We aren't iPads or Nintendo GameCubes: you can't expect us to--or cajole us into--doing exactly what "they" want, when "they" want it.  If I pop one of my VICTORiOUS DVDs into my Blu-Ray player, I'm not going to get a message saying, "Sorry; I don't want to watch that right now.  Why don't you put in Avatar: The Last Airbender instead?"  That isn't its purpose; it only exists to serve its user.  However, you can't expect a human being--or even an animal, for that matter--to obey your every beck and call.  The fact that entertainment--movies, TV shows, music, even covers of books--are chock-full of beautified, pulchritudinous (look it up!) ladies only makes it even more of a hindrance.  Before my only aunt by marriage became my aunt, she questioned whether or not she would, because my uncle was too focused on his canine companions; she once said that he would only love her if she "grew an extra set of legs and a tail."  Sometimes, I wonder if my female friends have a similar thought: "Well, he is a nice guy and everything, but I don't think he would love me unless I got my own show on the Disney Channel or magically transformed into Demi Lovato or Bridgit Mendler."  Honestly, such a thought is not too far off; a road to a relationship with me would be a treacherous one for any woman--even a "cougar"--to go down, which is why, so far, all of my female friends have avoided it.  I say, more power to them; not only do they not have to deal with the frustration that would come from such an attempt, but it keeps me from enduring heartbreak like I've never previously known.

Any comments?

Monday, October 21, 2013

There IS No Lion!

I've never been a fan of scary stuff.  Though I don't mind if a movie, book, or TV show has a few frightening moments--many sci-fi/fantasy stories do--I don't like it when the whole intent of something is simply to scare anyone who reads, sees, or hears it.  I've become a little less sensitive to it as I've gotten older, but, as a kid, I even had to turn off the background music during a set of levels in a computer game designed for kids ages three through eight because it was just too eerie.  It actually used to be the main reason behind why I despised this month we're currently in, though I have since gotten over that.

Though many of us have experience with "entertainment" that did nothing but scare us, where fear is really a problem is when it keeps you from doing what should be done.  Since I am not you, I won't try to assess what your fears are keeping you from doing; that's something that only you and/or someone who knows you better than anyone else, such as a parent or spouse, would know.  Still, I realize now that I have been making up excuses for why I shouldn't do things, when the real reason was that I didn't want to.  Here are some examples:

What Whoever Wanted Me to DoThe Excuse I Gave for Not Doing ItThe Real Reason Why I Declined
Go to a convention about four hours away with a teacher and some fellow students"That's a week after a youth retreat my church is doing, and I'll just be too tired."I simply wasn't interested.
Apply for a job working at a call center"Both one of my friends and one of my aunts used to work at such a place, and they told me they got 'cussed out' on a daily basis."I didn't want a job anywhere except for the library.
Try selling my wares at a flea market"If I do that, I'm going to get taken advantage of and robbed!"I just didn't want to bother with it; trading in items to stores in my area was easier.
Meal preparation that involves touching raw meat"Back in 2004, when my mom asked me to do that, I was providentially hindered by a phone call from a friend I hadn't talked to in months! If God stopped me from doing it, it must not be what I should be doing!"It disgusted me, and I just wanted no part of it.

There is actually a Bible verse that says something about such situations: "The lazy person claims, 'There’s a lion out there! If I go outside, I might be killed!'" (Proverbs 22:13, NLT) Yes, you read that right: the lazy person, not the fearful person, or the smart person.  Though we all can be lazy at times--which is actually a good thing, since all of us need our sleep--being a couch potato or even a mouse potato is not a good thing.

If you're a Christian, or even if you've attended church for a while, you no doubt have heard of shut-ins; that is, people who can't leave their house at all--or, at least, without lots of assistance--even just to go to church services to the supermarket.  Last week, I was thinking about that term, and I was wondering if I was a shut-in; after all, I don't drive, and, unless I can walk to it, I usually have to hitch a ride to wherever I want or need to go, usually from one or both of my parents.  I asked my mom about it, and she said that my ability to walk places and take the bus prevented me from being one.  Now that I think about it, I realize that I was thinking that way because, even though I'm not technically a shut-in, I somewhat live like one.  Lately, I haven't been walking places like I used to, and I definitely haven't been using my city's bus system like I should.  Instead, in many cases, if I can't "get a lift" to and from where I want to go, I just wait, and end up sitting at home reading a book or watching television instead.  I'm not going to lie: That is laziness on my part.

It goes even beyond that, though; in fact, what I'm about to say might surprise you, though it's likely something that you've known all along.  In 2003, a well-meaning teacher told me of a friend whose son was thought to have the same condition I have, and he--that is, the son himself--believed that driving was not an option for him, if only because of the concentration required.  Up to that point, I had only thought of having a driver's license and car as how it would benefit me, instead of what would be required of me to actually get it.  From that point on, I fought against almost all of my friends and family members, who entirely disagreed with me when I said the same thing that other kid said.  I even went as far as intentionally failing my learner's permit test the first time I took it, and lying about it to cover it up! When I actually did get the permit, I took four lessons with a friend, only to use his requirement of me washing my mom's car--which we were using for the lessons--as an out; I claimed that the mistakes I made during the final lesson were so stupid, it was like walking into the fourth week of a high school class and not even knowing the teacher's name.  Some time later, another friend gave me some lessons, but they were stopped by him getting injured while refereeing a football game...or, at least, that's what I always said.  When I stopped and thought about it recently, I realized that we did a lesson when he was still recovering from his injury, so that must not have been it.  Even if it wasn't, he recovered from that injury years ago, yet we haven't had any lessons since, it must have been something on my part.  When my learner's permit expired, my dad wanted me to get my permit again, and I absolutely refused, only wanting to get a non-driver's ID.  However, the biggest kicker is that, later on, that same teacher who told me about her friend's son mentioned that said kid was actually driving...yet, I was still insistent that being behind the wheel of a car was not for me.  It was an accident waiting to happen; it was far too big of a risk; if I gave in to my friends and family, the end result would make them wish they never "encouraged" me.  Now, I see it for what it really was: laziness.  Instead of working hard at something that would change my life, I'd rather sit around and watch Disney Channel.  Does that not sound like a sluggard to you?

I do want to make a few things clear.  First off: Though I'm not going to let my lazy attitude keep me from what needs to be done, I will still be mindful of my premonitions.  Some Christians argue that, after the last part of the Bible was written, God quit talking to anyone, even His followers, outside of the Word.  I don't believe that; I think there are things that a sort of inner voice--which has to be God--has told me that I wouldn't have known otherwise.  For example: One Friday in 2011, I was at the library volunteering, when I saw the courier--that is, the guy who transports items from one library to another--bring in a box of inter-library loans.  I didn't open, touch, or even go near it, but I knew that one of the items I had requested was in there...and it was.  The same thing happened all the way back in 2001, when, as "navigator" for a youth retreat four hours away, I told the driver to turn somewhere, even though I hadn't seen the street sign long enough to read it, because something told me that was the right street...and it was.  God had to be behind that; frankly, I'd like to see some atheist try to use psychology or science to come up with some other reason, because I know they'd only fail miserably.  If God tells me something, even if it's not in the Bible, why shouldn't I listen?

Second off: Refusing to succumb to my "fears"--aka my laziness--does not mean that I'll be doing all the activities I've been avoiding for years.  Most of you probably know that I don't like theme parks, sports, scary entertainment, or anything to do with large bodies of water.  That isn't a fear; it isn't a conviction; it's just that I can't stand them.  You all can take part in them to your heart's content; I won't stop you.  I just don't want to take part in them myself, though I'm glad that those of you who can do so, if all that makes you happy.

Third off: This isn't going to be an immediate change.  I once read a quotation on Plugged In's Culture Clips where it talked about the "time" it takes to do something in a movie or on television versus in real life.  Sitcom characters often solve problems within half-an-hour; the crews on home improvement shows transform a room or even a whole house in an hour; movie characters go from jerks to kind individuals--or vice versa--within the space of two hours.  Of course, the actual chronology is usually longer than that, and who wants to watch an episode that's forty-eight hours long?  Still, it doesn't change the fact that--in some people, at least--it causes a desire for instant gratification.  The quick speeds of technology only makes the problem worse; on my first computer--a Commodore 64--it took at least a minute or two to load any sort of application.  Nowadays, that's a minute or two too long; people, especially of my generation, want it here and now.  All that has made many folks--including myself--impatient with pretty much anything, even change in ourselves.  If it doesn't happen immediately, it's just not going to.  What some people don't realize is that all the technology in the world can't make changes in lifestyles, habits, or personalities any quicker; they take time, and not just two hours like in the movies.  If I'm going to try new things--driving, using mass transit, etc.--I have to work my way up.

In conclusion, let me say this: On the way home from my second failed attempt--this one not on purpose--to get my learner's permit, I tried to explain to my brother-in-law why driving wasn't an option.  I say "tried" because I ended up stammering a lot, I spent much of the time saying essentially nothing, and what I did say was immediately refuted by him.  When I told him that me driving was just too big of a risk--especially in the wake of my sister's death just a month or two prior--he told me an age-old saying: "Those who never took a risk never got anywhere."  You also might have heard similar sayings, such as, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained," and "No guts, no glory."  Those are all true; now, it's time that I started applying them to my life.  Fear that's rooted in laziness is not of God; in fact, 1 Peter 5:8 says, "Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour."  Maybe the "lion in the road" Solomon's sluggard talked about was actually Satan; with the Lion of Judah on my side, though, I have no reason to be afraid.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"Why So Dogmatic?" I'll Tell You Why!

Most people study at least one foreign language during their school years, usually in middle/junior high school or later.  Still others grow up in a bilingual household or world, where two languages are spoken and understood by all residents of the home or by pretty much everyone one comes in contact with.  Whatever your experience with various languages, it's obvious to pretty much anyone that learning one language is hard when you're used to the rules and sounds of another.  I took Spanish from seventh grade through tenth grade, and my classmates and I thought it was going to be easy; just one semester proved us wrong.  Though I do remember some of what I learned during those four years, it's mostly vocabulary, as I never did get the conjugations down fully.  I'm sure others of you who have taken any such classes--whether Spanish, French, Latin, or even ASL--probably know exactly what I mean; a coeval friend once told me that the only thing he remembered from high school Spanish class was how to ask permission to use the restroom.

It's also true with the different "languages" computers use.  Most of you who are involved in the tech field know that, since Macs have run on Intel processors for several years now, it makes it easy and natural for a computer with an apple printed on the front to run the "other" operating system.  What you might not know is that Windows/PC emulators have been available since the 90's; they just tended to run sluggishly at first, as the processor was trying to speak a "language" that wasn't its native one.  The Mac OS I currently have--10.6, aka Snow Leopard--is the last one that can run pre-Intel OS X programs, which actually comes in very handy.  I have a version of Print Shop that my mom bought for a previous Mac all the way back in 2004, and I am glad that it runs on the Mac I have now, because I do not want to shell out a whole bunch of money to get a new version of software that I already have.  The only problem? Though it runs moderately well, it is a bit slow, which is because the Intel processor is speaking a non-Intel "language" whenever I use that program.

Why do I bring that up? Here's why: Anyone who knows me knows that "cool" and "hip" are not languages that I speak or have ever spoken.  Though I've had coeval friends pretty much my entire life, I was never in the "in crowd," as my tastes in...well, pretty much everything were not the same as my classmates or other peers.  I'm pretty sure the last personal fad I went through that was considered cool by people my own age was Pokémon, and that was over a decade ago.  Sure, I made attempts to be "cool" and "hip," but they were simply futile; there was no way I could actually "fit in," not that I would truly have wanted to in the first place.  When it came to my tastes, and in other areas as well, I was pretty much speaking a "language" all my own.

As most of you either would expect or already know, I was met with criticism for all that.  Why couldn't I get my driver's license? Why did I like the things that my peers considered "childish"? What was stopping me from doing what "everyone else" was doing? True, the lion's share of that was from teenagers--and, therefore, a largely immature source--but right much of it was from adults of various ages, most if not all of whom should have known better.  Regardless of who said what, it ended up giving me thicker skin and made me all the more hesitant to do what anyone said.

In my last post, I shared this quotation from a former friend: "You are very rigid about your opinions, and it seems that if one does not agree with you, they are persecuting you, or just wrong.  Being so dogmatic can lead people to just agree without sharing their own ideas and opinions, because they don’t want to argue anymore." Ever since I first read those words about 1.5 years ago, I have been pondering what she meant, and trying to figure out whether or not she had a worthwhile point.  Now, I have come to a conclusion: Though I'm sure her intentions were good, the point she was trying to make is nothing short of invalid.  In my case, I have to be "dogmatic," because, as the old saying says: "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything."  I'll tell you right now that I do not want to be guilted or manipulated into taking part in activities--watching/playing sports, consuming morally objectionable entertainment, attending theme parks, anything involving large bodies of water, etc.--that are completely contrary to my tastes.  You can do that if you want; I'm not going to stop you.  I just want no part of it, because I know that I'm not going to enjoy it, despite others' claims to the contrary.  If I weren't as "dogmatic" as my former friend claimed I was/am, I'd have given up many of the things that I have become known for, such as Disney Channel/Nickelodeon, bargain hunting, being crafty, and the like, and would have succumbed to the audacious pleas from others who tried to get me to attend the beach or play football with them, even after I made it perfectly clear to them I wasn't the least bit interested.

A few months ago, I did a blog post where I said that, if you tell me that I'm not going to do something--or that I shouldn't do something--and your argument lacks sufficient backup, all you have done is made me even more determined to do whatever.  That comes as a result of years of people telling me, "You should ______!", and/or "You shouldn't _____!", without any reasons other than, "It's what everybody else is doing!", "It isn't appropriate for someone your age to do that!", or some other meaningless little platitude that has never and will never work on me.  I've realized that people are going to find fault no matter what I do.

Besides which, I'm pretty sure most of my true friends don't care about all that one way or the other.  Though they may not be fans of the same entities I am or have the same hobbies I do, they're still happy for me, because they know what I do makes me happy.  Back in 2007, I mentioned to a rather negative acquaintance that I had read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows during commercial breaks of ABC's airing of The Princess Diaries, to which he/she replied, "What would your guy friends think if they knew you were watching The Princess Diaries?" I'll tell you what they would think: They wouldn't care, and they definitely wouldn't make fun of me for it; if they did, they would be immature, and they wouldn't be my friends.  To be honest, I tried the same tactic on my mom once; around 1996, a show came on Disney Channel called Salute to the American Teacher, and, when my mom refused to watch it, I told her that it meant that she "didn't support the American teacher," to which she replied, "Yes, I do, [Siobhan]; I work for the school system!" (At the time, she was working as a school nurse.) Later on, either the same or a similar program came on the Mouse network, and I told her that I was going to tell the school's principal--aka her boss--that she didn't want to watch it.  My mom's reply? "She wouldn't care, [Siobhan]." Looking back, I think she was right; if I'd notified the principal, I probably would have gotten myself in trouble for wasting her time with such a paltry matter.  My guy friends would likely think less of the aforementioned individual for being a tattletale instead of thinking less of me for watching that movie; in fact, it was a former drill sergeant--no joke!--who recommended Ella Enchanted to me, and that's what led to me becoming an Anne Hathaway fan, and, therefore, watching that Princess movie.

In conclusion, I will say this: At a friend's Eagle Scout Court of Honor, I heard one of the adult leaders tell this story:

A man and his son were once going with their donkey to market. As they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said, "You fool, what's a donkey for but to ride upon?"

So, the man put the boy on the donkey and they went on their way...but soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said, "See that lazy youngster? He lets his father walk while he rides!"

So, the man ordered his son to get off and got on the donkey himself...but they hadn't gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other, "Shame on that lazy lout for letting his poor little son trudge along!"

The man did not know what to do, but he eventually took his son up before him on the donkey.  By this time they had come to the town and the people passing by began to jeer and point at them.  The man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at, and they replied: "Aren't you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey of yours; you and your hulking son?"

The man and his son got off and tried to decide what to do.  After much thinking, and then decided to cut down a pole, tie the donkey's feet to it, and raise the pole and the donkey to their shoulders.  They went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to Market Bridge when the donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the boy to drop his end of the pole.  In the struggle, the donkey fell over the bridge, and, since his front feet were tied together, he drowned.

"That will teach you," said an old man who had followed them, "that you cannot please everyone."

As I and countless others have said, people are going to find fault no matter what I do.  I know that some people aren't pleased with what I decide to do, but that is their problem.  I realized years ago that I have to do what God wants, regardless of what whoever else or whatever else might tell me to do.  Now, I'm off; I've got books to read and TV shows to watch.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Either Way, I'm Doomed

I write this with a heavy heart; lately, I have been emotionally struggling for more than one reason.  I can't figure out what the problem is exactly--do I need more medication? Do I need to adjust my diet? Am I just going through a rough patch right now?--but, lately, I just haven't been very happy, and nothing, not even my favorite entertainment or a trip to IHOP, seems to be able to fix it.

What's the problem? There's actually more than one, but the biggest one is this: I can't decide whether or not I am making the right decisions when it comes to important areas of my life, especially driving.  For years, I was sure that being behind the wheel of a car was nothing more than an accident waiting to happen.  Friends and family went out of their way to encourage me to give it a shot; one of my aunts even went as far as sending me a card--through regular mail, not e-mail--out of the blue to suggest I try taking lessons with a friend again.  Even one of the last things a now-former friend said to me before we became incommunicado was such an encouragement.  During that time, I built up a wall--okay, not literally, but you get my point--against anything that anyone said on that topic that was contrary to my opinion.

About a year ago, however, those walls started to crack, and they still haven't been repaired.  Part of me thinks that, by not driving, I'm doing myself a major disservice and just succumbing to fear and laziness...yet, another part of me believes that such thinking is actually smart, and that "everyone else," despite their great intentions, actually don't realize what they're saying.  When I think back on right many of the disagreeing statements people made on the topic, my response--whether I actually said it or simply thought it--still makes sense to me.  Here are some perfect examples:

Their ClaimsMy Response
"My uncle has Asperger Syndrome, and he drives; if he can, so can you."Asperger Syndrome is a spectrum disorder, which means that no two cases are the same.  As a special ed teacher, you should know that; you are letting your emotions overpower your rational thinking.  Besides which, some Biblical scholars would argue that the "if he can do it, so can I" attitude nearly cost Peter his life. (See Matthew 14:30 for the basis of that opinion.)
[After I talked about my bad concentration causing me to lose at video games]
"But...there's a lot of electricity involved in video games; you could get electrocuted!"
When was the last time you heard of someone getting electrocuted while simply sitting there playing Nintendo or PlayStation? If that were even remotely likely, don't you think the video game manufacturers and/or the federal government would do something about it? That's ridiculous!
By the just lost this argument for life; I don't want to hear anything else you have to say on this matter.
"______ learned how to drive, and, if he can, anyone can."Not only is that belief troublesome--Matthew 14:30, as mentioned above--but, I'm pretty sure that the person you speak of has no sort of medical condition, whereas I do.
"Unless there is another medical concern I don’t know about, why haven’t you learned to drive? Even if you take the bus back and forth to work, you should learn to drive in case of an emergency."No, an emergency would be the absolute worst time for me to be behind the wheel of a car; it would be like handing a loaded pistol to a guy with anger management issues while he is positively livid.  When I get into stressful situations, I tend to "freak the freak out," which means I shouldn't be operating anything dangerous, including a car.
"The Bible says, 'All things are possible with God,' and, 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.' Don't you believe that?"I've read the entire New Testament twice, so, I know those verses.  What you don't realize is that you have the completely wrong idea about what they mean.  Just because something is "possible" doesn't mean it will happen; what's that song we sing about how God could have sent ten thousand angels...but he didn't? As for the other one, what Paul is really talking about is being content in any circumstance.
Plus, there's a verse you are ignoring: "Do not put the Lord your God to the test." While I believe that God looks out for me, I can't expect him to save me when I'm simply being reckless, which would be what I'd be doing if I did something that I was "providentially hindered" from previously.

Do my responses make sense to you? They're essentially the same ones I have been giving people for years when they make such claims.  Still, I can't fight the feeling that I'm still in the wrong, despite my insistence to the contrary.  It seems like either way, I'm doomed.  If I do try to drive, I'm testing God and will likely end up dead; if I don't, I miss out on much of what life has to offer, and lose opportunities for jobs, not to mention the chance that I could end up homeless.

One of the qualities of some people with A.S. is indecisiveness; they can't decide whether or not they want something, or what they want in the first place.  Sometimes, I can be the exact opposite; there are times where I go into MovieStop or the library and know exactly what I want to get off the shelf.  Of course, there are times where said item(s) is/are unavailable, and then I have to choose another course of action.  Other times, though, even after I've made my decision and can't change it, I wonder whether or not I made the right choice.  With this whole driving thing, I'd like to be sure I've made the right choice...but have I?

Some time ago, I told one of my friends something I believed about myself, and she said, "Are you sure that you haven't been told this so much, you are beginning to think it's true?" Honestly, sometimes I feel that's what happened with me and driving; I accepted that it just wasn't for me, but eventually gave in--to a degree, anyway--to all the encouragement that others dished out on a regular basis.

There are a few points I want to make.  First off: Getting a permit and then getting positively assessed does not mean that I am worthy of driving.  My mom once told a story about how a supposed "expert" on wheelchairs made my oldest sister pay the price; when that quack refused to let my eldest sibling have a reclining wheelchair on the grounds of her "need[ing] good body posture," my mom was critical of that decision for years after the fact.  Frankly, I'm afraid that I won't meet the requirements necessary to get my license, but I'll still get a positive assessment just because the person testing me feels sorry for me, since I'm a quarter-century old and never had my license.  I can't have that.

Second off: There is no way I could do anything that would likely lead to my own death at such a young age.  During my lifetime, my mom has lost both of her parents, her firstborn, her youngest sibling, her last remaining aunt, her sister-in-law, and some good friends, including one who died just last week.  My dad also lost a sibling a few years ago.  I know that I shouldn't be afraid of death--after all, I'm a Christian--but, even if I were to just keel over before I stopped typing this, I know that it would be too much for my parents to bear.  I can't help but feel that me being behind the wheel of a car would lead to just that.

Third off: You don't have to be afraid to express your opinions on things.  A former friend once said, "You are very rigid about your opinions, and it seems that if one does not agree with you, they are persecuting you, or just wrong.  Being so dogmatic can lead people to just agree without sharing their own ideas and opinions, because they don’t want to argue anymore."  She was proven right last July when I did a post on this same topic and only got one comment, which only received a "like" from me.  I was quite sure that people were going to be commenting like crazy, disagreeing with what I had to say; honestly, I think my almost-lack of responses was because people just didn't want to discuss it anymore.  Isn't that what online forums are supposed to be all about: discussions and expressing of opinions? I will caution you that, if you do have a different opinion, you'd better have sufficient backup, because I can't consider the other side of the coin without it.

All right; it's after midnight here, and I need some sleep.  Pray for me to make the right decision, okay?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Who Are My People?

I have to be honest: For the past few days, I have been on the verge of tears.  It just seems like I've been having one bad day after another, and my emotions have been gripping me like crazy.  Saturday night, I got so upset over something that I threw the book I was going to read onto the floor, and you know I don't believe in abusing media, especially literature.  The next few days weren't the best, as I panicked and fretted over a completely pointless matter.  Earlier today, I went from being proud to being downcast without anyone saying anything to me.  I don't know what's to be done with my emotions, but I still feel compelled to post this, here we go.

One of the things that people have always wanted me to do is to "hang out" with folks around my age.  There were times, usually at church youth outings, where the leader(s) had to force me to do just that, if only because I would rather not have done so.  Now that I'm past those days, I still do have a social group...just not of people my age.  Oh, sure, my church has a "twenty to forty" group, but it's a considerable distance away, and, since I lack a driver's license and my parents work long hours, I really don't have any way to get there.  That isn't the first time such a thing has happened; I was attending such a group that was sponsored by another church, but had to cease going because the location of the meetings changed, and it was inconvenient for anyone attending to pick me up, because of their close proximity to said meeting place and me being outside of that area.   So, as unfortunate as it would seem to some, I don't have a "social group" of coeval folks to hang out and do stuff with; honestly, I haven't since I lost contact with my friends Korrey and Kevin around 2000.

So, does that mean that I get no social interaction? Of course not! Some of you may not know this, but, at least once every two weeks, my parents go out to dinner with some friend(s), and usually invite me along.  True, those people are usually my parents' age or older, but, honestly, I don't mind it one bit; in fact, I think that is just the way God wants it.  If it weren't meant to be that way, He would provide some way for me to have a "social group" of coeval folks, and He hasn't.

You may wonder: Why would that be the case? Don't I need such interaction? I'll explain it to you, using my usual multiple point style.  First off: I have found that I often can't deal with the immaturity that people my own age often exhibit.  Usually, the reason I ended up sitting by myself--or, at least, not with my coevals--was because someone said something that upset me.  I was once at a social function where we were playing a "guess who this middle name belongs to" game, and someone there guessed mine because, to quote her, "That's a white boy name, and you're as white as they come." I didn't cry or stomp out of the room, but, when they had food later, I got some and found a spot to sit and eat it outside, away from anyone, because it upset me so much.  True, that may have been when I was in high school, but, these days, adults of all ages are getting more and more immature.  I once heard of a case where, during a gathering of young adults, a guy threw a milkshake at someone, and, based on a Facebook comment I saw yesterday, people still remember it; his wife has even said, "He will never live that down!"  If I were a member of that group, I would have refused to come back at that point, even if I wasn't the "victim" of said guy's projectile.  Yet, I have never gotten such a feeling from interacting with older people.

Now, hear me out here: I do realize that not all people around my age--or, really, of any age--are immature.  I know a young lady who is still a teenager, but happens to be one of the most mature individuals I have ever met.  Other people I have known--of all ages--have exhibited maturity that far surpassed that of their peers.  Still, I can't tolerate immature behavior, even from just one person; it seems that there is one in every bunch.

Second off: If I've gone this long without having some sort of "social group"...why would I need one now? In case you didn't see it above, I haven't had a "group" to hang out with since around 2000.  Sure, I had friends in middle and high school, but most of them were ones that I never did anything outside of school or church with.  Oftentimes, I would hear about outings that they went on after the fact, which meant that I wasn't invited.  It was the same way with that group sponsored by the nearby church; though I attended the meetings regularly, some of the other outings they had were ones I didn't know about or realize I had missed until I saw the photos on Facebook, and it wasn't all that long until I became unable to attend at all.

Let me be clear: I do feel that a social life--or, at least, being able to interact with others--is important.  When my oldest sister was alive, my mom had long--as in over a hundred minutes--phone conversations with the same people every week, because she had no other way to have such interaction.  However, focusing on it too much can be a problem; my sister once botched an interview for a internship somewhere because she told the interviewer that she was worried about how it would affect her social life.  Many of you probably had similar missteps when you were new to the working world; still, my point is that your social life shouldn't be an obsession.

Third off: My tastes are simply not the same as coeval folks'. I know that many of you immediately thought of Disney Channel and Nickelodeon when you read those words, and that is part of it.  Still, some of my tastes aren't like kids'; they're like older adults'.  When we have had yard sales at our house, it always seems like the majority of people who come are at least old enough to be my parent, if not older.  Sure, they may have a kid or grandchild in tow, but said young person likely wouldn't be there otherwise.  I've even had elderly people buy some of my items! Seriously, how many people around my age do you know who enjoy bargain hunting? Didn't think so.

Not only that, but, when it comes to people my age, their priorities usually lie in at least one of four areas: school, work, their relationship, and their kid(s).  However, I'm done with school, I only work three days a week, and, I have no plans to get into a relationship or have kids; if Demi Lovato is the closest thing I have to a significant other, I'm fine with that.  Since I have quite a bit of spare time, my interests--entertainment, bargain hunting, etc.--take the place of a relationship and kids.  That's not to say that I wish I had those things; honestly, I sometimes wonder how some parents or even childless married people can do what they do on a daily basis.

My last point before my conclusion: I think I need to learn to be less social.  I've always been known for being talkative; people used to get annoyed with me because I just wouldn't shut up.  There have also been times where I lost friends just because I shot off at the mouth.  Even some embarrassing moments could have been avoided if I'd just kept to myself.  All that is evidence that I simply need to be more introverted.  If that means more entertainment time, so be it.  Frankly, I think introverts are underrated; if more people could just remain quiet, we'd have less problems on this planet.

Now, for my conclusion: Now that you've read what I have to say, you probably see my point(s) and agree with me, right? Great; now, I just have one more person to convince: myself.  I can sit here and type out messages like this that sound great and get "applauded" by my friends and even random commentators...but, it always seems like I end up not convinced of what I've said.  Being on Facebook provides a window into other people's lives, including social events, relationships, and other things that many people would consider "normal" for my age, but of which I have no part.  I've thought for a very long time that it would be easier to accept the fact that I'm not getting my driver's license if everybody and their mother didn't "encourage" me to get it.  It's the same with social events with coeval people; though I know it is for the best that I don't take part in all that, sometimes, when I see photos or other references to them on Facebook or elsewhere, I feel as if I am missing out, and start to become jealous, which isn't good.  Frankly, if this is what God wants for me, I should have peace with it...but I don't, and I'm afraid I never will, and that just makes me want to cry.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What I Like About... No. 1: Good Girls

If you're single--and even if you're not--you probably have a certain "type" when it comes to those of the opposite gender you find attractive.  Some guys like ladies with certain hair colors; some women love men in uniform; some dudes only like ladies who truly understand American football; some women couldn't marry a guy who doesn't like animals in the house.  Whatever your "type" is, you're probably hoping to find "the one" who falls into that category, if you haven't already.

Some of you might think that the only kind of women I could like are famous ones; pretty much, if they're not on Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel, I'm not interested, it would seem.  What you're failing to realize is that, even in recent years, I have been interested in some single ladies whom I actually knew; I just haven't asked anyone out since 2008, for reasons even I don't completely understand.  In some cases, I've had to squelch any thought of anything happening between me and whoever, usually because they ended up engaged and/or married before they knew anything about any such feelings, though, in a select few cases, I was simply unfriended by them for no apparent reason.  What did those ladies have in common? Simple: They were good girls.

You may be asking: What makes a lady a "good girl"? Her style of dress? A lack of excessive piercings and body art? What she has on her iPod? I'll give you a few qualities that a "good girl" has.  First off: A good girl is modest.  When you hear/read that word, you may immediately think about not showing skin, but it's more than just that.  Webster defines "modesty" as "freedom from conceit or vanity" and "propriety in dress, speech, or conduct".  So, a person can be fully clothed and still lack modesty by being a braggadocio, or mouthing off to others, or just generally acting inappropriately.

It's especially the case when it comes to bragging.  These days, people boast about anything and everything--getting honor roll, winning awards they don't deserve, etc.--without another thought.  My mom has never liked those bumper stickers that say, "My child is an honor roll student at _________", because they're quite boastful.  As I've gotten older, I understand what she means.  More to the point, during my first year at my second elementary school, it won the supposedly prestigious Blue Ribbon award.  The principal decided to rub it in everyone's face by launching blue balloons that ended up all over the world, as well as having a new roof and floors installed that were--you guessed it--blue.  I was never happy about all that, though, because several incidents took place my first year there that shouldn't have happened at an "award-winning" school.  Still, even though that principal is reportedly long gone, her boasting over that undeserved--in my opinion, anyway--award is evident to anyone who walks into or even passes by that school.

It isn't just me who is bothered by boasting and bragging; God is, too.  Proverbs 16:18 says that pride leads to destruction, and Paul told the Galatians--and us--that he would never boast except in the cross of Jesus Christ.  Other Scriptures throughout the New Testament warn of being conceited.  Though it's good to have confidence, a woman who thinks she is the greatest thing since the personal computer is simply not my type.

Second off: A good girl is polite and respectful of others.  I know I'm not perfect, and I'll admit that some people and situations get the best of me, but I do my absolute best to make sure that I respect anyone and everyone with whom I come into contact.  Unfortunately, it seems that, especially among people my age, politeness and being respectful are all too rare.  You wouldn't believe how mouthy some people of my generation can be; when I think back to all the ways I was harassed when I was younger, I realize that it was just because those kids didn't know how to behave.  Of course, taming the tongue has always been a challenge; if it wasn't, it wouldn't be mentioned in James 3.  Still, if a girl doesn't know how to appropriately talk to people, she is not the one for me.

Third off: A good girl is intelligent.  Sure, we all say or do stupid things, but there's a difference between making a mistake once in a while and simply just not getting it.  I saw a story on a cable news network this morning about millennials--that is, people of my generation--and the mistakes they often make during job interviews, such as bouncing from job to job, or asking what perks the business will offer them.  Though it was presented in an exaggerated, sitcom-esque style, it really made its point.  Unfortunately, people of my generation will likely continue to make such gaffes in interviews and elsewhere.  If a lady isn't smart enough to realize her mistakes and learn from them, then she isn't right for me.

Lastly, and most importantly: A good girl is a Christian. Proverbs 31:30 says it best: "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." Seriously, I couldn't imagine being in a relationship with a girl who didn't share my beliefs.  That's one reason why I know the Disney and Nickelodeon stars aren't right for me: Though they may appear cute and innocent on TV, who knows what they're like in real life? Even believing in God isn't enough; James 2:19 says that even the demons do that.

True, some mainstream celebrities have mentioned being Christians, including my current "number one" Demi Lovato.  It's great that she prays before her concerts and gives God the credit for getting her through hard times; if only she would refrain from resorting to occasional profanities and sexual references in her songs, and dress a bit more modestly.  It really doesn't matter; she is just as out of my league as Hilary Duff and Anne Hathaway were, so, there's no point in speculating if she and I are a match.  I'd rather marry a non-famous woman, anyway; I don't want all the annoyances that come with being romantically linked with a celebrity.  My point is: If a girl doesn't share my beliefs, no dice.

I will end by saying this: Most of you who know me probably aren't surprised by the fact that I like good girls.  You look at almost every celebrity I've liked--from Amy Jo Johnson to Hilary Duff to Christy (Carlson) Romano to Ashley Tisdale to Victoria Justice to Jennifer Stone--and they--or, at least, the roles they played--had that good girl quality.  What you may not know is that I've actually crushed on some Jezebels, both famous ones and ones I personally knew.  My "number one" in eighth grade was a washed-up actress who went from big sitcom star to appearing in countless morally offensive movies to dying of a drug overdose; you can guess what one thing she did that made me her fan.  Even other female celebrities I liked--but rarely talked about--were not nearly as squeaky clean as Hilary or Victoria.  More to the point, I once had a crush on a significantly older, divorced woman who claimed to be a Christian, but didn't have the other above qualities for "good girls".  Our friendship has been over for a while, and I used to lament about it; now, I view it as a Godsend.  Though I may have fallen for her at one point, I realize now that she was not the one for me at all, and I will make sure that I never fall for such a lady again.

Any comments?

Friday, September 6, 2013

I Don't Want to Preach Anymore...and I Want to Take This Blog in a New Direction!

Okay, all my faithful blog readers: You've probably noticed that I tend to "preach" on this blog.  I don't mean talk about the Bible; I'm still going to do that.  What I mean is this: No matter what I'm talking about, it's usually in my own defense ("Someone said I should not _______. Here's why I am right and that person is wrong:") or blasting someone else for their supposed wrongs ("Somebody once did ______ to me.  Now, I'll tell you why that was wrong:").  Even posts that seemed innocuous actually fell into that category; a blog on Disney/Nickelodeon actresses was written in response to an altercation with a former friend.  Usually, my writings on here or elsewhere were a product of some kick I was on, though it may not have been obvious to those who don't interact with me personally.

However, I have realized that all these diatribes do not foster discussion.  I have a friend around my age whose blog talks about various topic from a Christian point of view, and, from what I've seen, he gets a boatload of comments, both via Facebook and on the blog itself.  However, lately, on here, I usually get one or two comments, if I get any response at all.  I think my problem is the tone I've taken with my online writings: angry rants, bashing people, and generally inappropriate behavior.  People who normally would read my writings have been turned off by my previous writings, which I admit were wrong and sinful.

So, I want to make some things very clear:

  1. I am not going to bash anyone on this blog, even using a codename and/or vagueness.  I won't say anything about any person, living or dead, that I would not say to his/her face.  That includes in "parodies" as well as regular writings.  I know that, in the past, I was guilty of such things, but I promise I will not do it again.
  2. I'm tired of one-sided discussion in general, whether online or elsewhere.  Most of you don't care to hear my long stories about middle school or celebrity crushes; if you did, you'd probably ask.  If you're not saying much of anything, then, that means I need to not be talking as much.
  3. I am not going to say anything that is in violation of Biblical commandments and teachings.  If I have any doubts about what I'm going to post, I won't post it, or, at the very least, I will get my parents or a trusted friend to look over it first.
  4. If I am upset about something, I will not make it public.  I might talk with someone privately, but I will not make an angry post on this blog, Facebook, or anywhere where a large amount of people can/will see it.
  5. I'm not sure how often I will update my "Siobhan Thinks Differently" blog; frankly, I feel that my review blog has been a much better venture than anything else I've done online, including other blogs and Facebook.  It seems that I often use this space to defend my love for entertainment, when I could spend the time actually watching one of the movies that has been on my shelf for months; in other words, I'm talking about doing something instead of actually doing it, which isn't right.  If I feel the need to say something on here, I might do so, but, for most of you, Facebook tells you everything you need to know about me.
  6. If I do something that I said I definitely wouldn't do above--specifically, in the first, second, and fourth rules--you have every right to unfriend and/or block me, regardless of how good of friends we may have been previously.  I'm saying that because I want to make sure there are consequences if I don't keep my word.
So, that's what I needed to say.  Now, I'm off to spend time with my one true love: entertainment.  (You thought I had a significant other? LOL!)

Friday, August 30, 2013

You Don't Seem to Be Taking This Very Seriously...

It's no secret that people's opinions of me are all over the map.  Some people find me interesting, exciting, funny, and a joy to have around...whereas others consider me annoying, stupid, a weirdo, or something along those lines.  True, some of my former classmates didn't like me because of who I used to be; we were all immature during those days, and did plenty of things we now wish we never did.  Still, despite the number of people I would call "good friends," I also have right many former friends, some of whom I have no idea what I did to offend or upset them.

You've probably heard the expression, "It's a free country!" People, especially kids, use that as an excuse to do whatever they want, when they want.  Though the Constitution--and God--gives us free will, we are not free from the consequences of our actions.  Look at what happened several years ago what Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks publicly bashed President Bush.  At the time, "W" was very popular with the American people, and Ms. Maines' remarks led to an outcry against that all-girl singing group.  Though what she did was legal, it didn't stop her from paying the price.

My first favorite band of any kind was the mega-popular Christian group dc Talk, whose amazing songs still get spins by CCM fans to this day, despite their split over a decade ago.  Since I was a bit late to the party--as usual--I didn't get Jesus Freak, which is considered to be their opus, until after I had all their other albums.  When I listened to it, I heard a song called "What Have We Become?" that I didn't like at first, because it disturbed me.  Now that I'm a bit more mature, I understand the meaning of the song better than ever.  One verse bashes racism ("A preacher shuns his brother because his bride's a different color, and this is not acceptable; his papa taught him so!"); the other illustrates the effects of parental disunity ("An inconvenient child; she wasn't worth their while!") However, one of the choruses mentions the secular way of thinking that is so prevalent:
Speak your mind; look out for yourself!
The answer to it all is a life of wealth!
Grab all you can, 'cause you live just once!
You got the right to do whatever you want!
Don't worry about others, or where you came from!
It ain't what you were; it's what you have become!
It's funny how the song mentions the "YOLO" principle, nearly two decades before everyone started posting it on Facebook!  In the context of the song, such thinking is decried.

Despite what that song says and claims from numerous others, many people still think that they have the right to do whatever they want.  I was once in a thrift store where a local radio station was playing, and, when an ad came on for a political candidate, another person in the store said, "Yeah, he'll take away your right to drink beer!" It's not the first time I've heard such ludicrous claims; an eighth grade classmate used an essay on the topic "Is Freedom Really Free?" to lament about our school's dress code, like the people who would have read it would even care.  Such thinking, despite its prevalence, is problematic.

Of course, no one wants to be told that what they are doing is wrong...but that doesn't mean that they don't need to hear it.  I recently watched a movie called The Encounter where a few modern-day people meet Jesus face-to-face, and one of the first statements He makes is, "People rarely want what they need."  Speaking of Jesus, I have to agree with the title of a Christian devotional book I once came across: Your Jesus Is Too Safe.  Seriously, people want to water down Biblical teachings so as not to offend anybody, but Christ told people what they needed to hear, whether they liked it or not.  Even nowadays, being called an adulterer is a serious accusation, right? Well, Jesus said that, if you've lusted, then you are one! Jesus also called people "foxes" and "snakes," and said things that ruffled some people's feathers enough that they killed Him! Though He never sinned, His teachings were upsetting to some people, and that's the way it should be! Christian producer David McFadzean once said, "Only exposing ourselves to Christian books, music, and movies that coddle us can actually keep us in our own sin." The same is true of sermons or other messages: If all you're told is that what you're doing is perfectly okay when it's actually not, are you inclined to stop doing it? Of course not!

Now, here's where things are going to get even more intense.  Despite the actions of some others, I'm not about to subvert the Bible's messages just to please people.  In Galatians 1:10, Paul wrote, "Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant." (NLT) Colossians 4:6 (GW) also says, "Everything you say should be kind and well thought out so that you know how to answer everyone." Of course, you want to say things as politely as possible, but, at times, there's no way to get your point across without sounding like Simon Cowell.  Seriously, if you're not inspired to change your ways when reading the Bible, you obviously aren't doing it right.

Here is my main point: I have known many people who have said, "You scare me!", or that others were somehow frightened by my actions.  Of course, some people use that term a bit too easily, just like the word "love" could describe your feelings for your favorite movie as well as how you feel about your spouse.  Still, some people say it, and they mean it in a literal sense.  Very few of you have actually seen me get really upset, and, if you thought my devotion to Disney actresses was scary, a few minutes around me in a horrible mood will make you wish I was rambling about Demi Lovato instead! Seriously, though, people say that my awkward social habits or my "different" interests are frightening to others, if only because they don't understand any of it.  So, now, I will use some Bible verses to explain why that bothers me.

First off: "The LORD is my light and my salvation--so why should I be afraid? The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?" (Psalms 27:1, NLT) That right there says that Christians should have no reason to be afraid.  Other Scriptures would agree, and say that God is the only One that you need to fear.  So, based on that, why should you be scared just because some well-meaning guy asked you about Facebook, or because your new friend has actresses and female singers all over his bedroom wall? Isn't that a paltry thing to be scared of? If you're afraid of what your significant other might think...well, if your relationship is that stifling, I don't know why you got into it in the first place.  Though I agree that married folks should have limited interaction with other opposite-gender friends, pretty much casting out anyone who doesn't share your gender unless he/she is a family member isn't right.  (What would Jesus do?)

Now, some of you may be wondering: If I truly believe that, then...why have I not gotten my driver's license? Here's why: "You must not test the Lord your God." (Deuteronomy 6:16/Matthew 4:7, NLT)  Seriously, I feel that God has providentially hindered me from getting my own set of wheels, because He knows what is and isn't good for me.  That whole "You can do anything you put your mind to" mess is mere tripe; seriously, God has given different people different abilities (1 Corinthians 12:4), and our job is to use them as best as possible, not sit around trying to get ones we're not meant to have.  You wouldn't go into a dangerous neighborhood for no good reason and say, "God will protect me," would you? How about praying for God to let you live before leaping off of the roof of your house? Seriously, if I insisted on driving, testing God is what I would be doing.

Second off: "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift." (Matthew 5:23-24, NIV) One of the popular slang phrases when I was in school was, "Got beef?" It probably was inspired by the "Got Milk?" commercials, but it really meant, "Do you want to beat me up?" Webster's says that "complaint" is a synonym for "beef," and that's true; seriously, if someone has something against someone else, it is called a beef.  I'm reminded of an incident on a dc Talk forum I was on years ago where someone made an ugly remark about someone else, and the recipient replied, "If you've got beef, [private message] me and we can squash it now." Unfortunately, such altercations can really ruin things for people; a friend and fellow church member once was at a youth retreat when something happened--to this day, all I know is that it involved his and the other party's younger brothers--that ruined the whole trip for him.  He was in such a snit that he refused to participate in the games later that day, and, during the evening worship time, another kid came up to the youth leader and said, "Something's wrong with [that guy]."  If only they could have resolved things, maybe he would have had a better time.

Unfortunately, it would seem that some people choose essentially the same route.  In many cases, I have been unfriended without any explanation of what I did wrong.  Instead of people trying to resolve things with me, they simply jumped ship, which, according to that above verse, is not the Christian thing to do.  Not only that, but it's also very wimpy.  Most people would think of a wimp as someone who lacks physical strength, but I've never been all that strong, and I've shown the exact opposite of "wimpiness" at times.  There have been several incidents where I said what other people were thinking, but were afraid to actually utter.  I'm also not afraid to tell others that I'm sorry for what I have done, and that I have messed up.  Others who would likely consider themselves not to be wimps actually are; I argued several times with a lady who would always say, "I don't want to talk about this anymore!" within a few minutes of discussing whatever.  She probably thought of that as a victory, but, I consider it to be a forfeit.  Think about it: If you were playing checkers with someone, and your opponent got mad and overturned the board, who would be the obvious victor? The same is true for those who got offended by whatever I did: Instead of being big enough to say something privately about such matters, they simply walked out, leaving me with only one question: Why? (Again, what would Jesus do?)

Third off: "Anyone who is not against you is for you." (Luke 9:50, NLT) Some of you may remember hearing about Sparky, the dog I used to have whom I despised from day one.  When I would badmouth him, other people would say, "That dog never did anything to you!" Their point was that I shouldn't have adamantly hated a pet who not only wasn't mean to me, but actually liked me.  I realize that was a mistake, and that's why I try to treat the dog my parents now have better than I did Sparky, even though I don't like owning pets all that much.  Despite me realizing that I was wrong on that front, some people choose to essentially shun me, even though I "never did anything to" them.  I don't get that; seriously, if you can tell that someone wants to be your friend and means you no harm, why respond in such a way?

For a long time, I have prided myself in how diverse my friends are.  If you want to be my friend, I don't care about your age, your relationship status, your sexual orientation, your religious beliefs, your living situation, your political views, or whatever else; you can be my friend.  Unfortunately, it seems that the friends I have made who don't share my faith are more accepting than the ones who would profess Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  In some cases, the way some Christians I have tried to befriend apparently think of me borders on prejudice instead of the love and compassion that Jesus expects of us (Ephesians 4:32, Luke 10:27).  (Once again: What would Jesus do?)

Here is my final Scripture quotation and point: "I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do." (Matthew 21:31, NLT) A movie I am currently in the middle of called Lukewarm opens with a minister preaching on Revelation 3:15-16 ("I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!"), and said preacher makes the point that some people who are lukewarm have just enough religion in their lives that they think they are doing just fine.  That's also true in real life, if only because people have been coddled repeatedly; see the David McFadzean quotation above.  I've been doing a daily Bible reading for about two years now, and it has changed my life.  Not only did the Gospels and the Epistles teach me numerous things, but even the Old Testament prophets made me want to give up my obsessions, because they say again and again how much God despises idolatry.  I've also learned that I shouldn't shun people, which is something that I used to do, and even defended it to others.  However, there are right many Christians who are in the wrong, but don't realize it, and are too stubborn to accept the fact that they're wrong.

Some of you might "read between the lines" and see that there are implied references to people whom you consider friends within this post, whether they are "former friends" of mine or never liked me in the first place, and that might be upsetting to you.  You also might be quick to refer to Matthew 7:1: "Do not judge others, and you will not be judged."  What you're failing to realize is that said verse is not meant to give Christians the right to do what they want, when they want; the corrupt culture has turned that Scripture into something it was never intended to be.  If the Bible says it's wrong, it's wrong, no matter who is responsible or how anyone tries to defend the person or people responsible.  There were numerous acts I witnessed and/or experienced before I was very well-versed in God's Word that I thought were wrong, despite others' endless defenses of such actions, and reading the Good Book in its entirety has only made me even more sure of how incorrect all that was.  Unfortunately, the people who need to read this are likely never going to do so, because they don't want to; they just want to be coddled.  If you want to stagnate, that's your choice; I've done all I could do to convince you otherwise.  If I don't tell people what they need to hear...who will?